MARINE TRAFFIC RULES
Here's a useful mnemonic rhyme for the international "rule of the road" used for the right of way when any two ships are converging:
A separate page contains mnemonics for port and starboard lights and ways to remember port and starboard.
Three further short rhymes provide a good summary of how to respond to vessels carrying navigation lights, especially when they are head-to-head:
The phrase "port your helm" refers to the use of a tiller. In helm orders, one has to recall that all ships were once steered by a tiller (or lever arrangement). If one puts the tiller over to port (ie.left), the rudder and consequently the ship's head went round to starboard (ie.right). Therefore the helm order "port" meant that the ship was to turn to starboard. Much later, after steam and steam steering became almost universal, helm orders were changed by international agreement, whereby "port" meant only "turn to port".
Mnemonics Guide Page ©1997 An EUdesign site